"Language is like a cracked kettle on which we beat out tunes for bears to dance to, when all the while we long to move the stars to pity," said Gustave Flaubert in his relentless quest for " le mot juste ." In this course, students will learn to write the academic essay while reading and analyzing essays, interviews, videos, poetry, and short stories about writing. Why do writers write? Where do they get their inspiration? Their preparation? Where do they find their models and mentors? What are their various methods? Why do writers not write? What are the responsibilities of the writer? Can writing be dangerous? Can success have its perils? Can writing be "fun"? What makes a writer "great"? Some possible answers (and further questions) come from Vladimir Nabokov, George Orwell, Joan Didion, Toni Morrison, Rainer Maria Rilke, Claudia Rankine, Chinamanda Ngozi Adichie, George Saunders, Liyun Li, Svetlana Alexievich, Zadie Smith, David Foster Wallace, Seamus Heaney, Grace Paley, Etgar Keret, Sherman Alexie, and Alice Munro. We may attend a reading, and a writer or editor will be our guest.